The wearing of tzit tzit is another area for those in the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Judaism/Netzarim streams of thought that becomes an outward expression of their attempts at Torah pursuance. The wearing of the fringes on the corners of their garments or from their belt loops becomes for them as necessary as observing a seventh-day Sabbath, appointed Feasts, and abiding by dietary laws. Some proudly display their fringes, while others tuck them in, pulling them out when going to gather with their fellowships.
What place (if any) for tzit tzit in the life of the believer in Christ?
Why the wearing of tzit tzit was commanded:
37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’”
What strikes me as I read the Scripture passage above is that tzit tzit are much like an external ‘conscience’, hanging there as a constant reminder of the commandments of God. I can picture children fiddling with their tzit tzit, and in the back of their minds all the while understanding that those little fringes were there to remind them of God’s instructions . . .
What purpose for the believer, though, who has the Law written on their heart?
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I find it so interesting that believers are exhorted to rejoice in the Lord, to not be anxious about anything, bring every situation to God in prayer and petition, and that we are promised peace beyond all understanding that guards our hearts and minds in Christ. These are all things that we, as believers in Christ can do in direct relationship with God with confidence - because we are in Christ.
The instruction that follows to the Body of Christ is not one of an external reminder of Law, but of an internal meditation of those things which are in line with righteousness.
In addition, as those who are New Creations in Christ, we have the seal of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who actively sanctifies us and leads us into righteousness (Galatians 5). God Himself is our very real and effective internal conscience.
This Scripture also comes to mind:
1 Timothy 1:3-11
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
As believers we are encouraged not to fiddle with fringes (no disrespect intended), but to actively think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy”.
Another example is found in Romans 12:1-2:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Those in Christ depart from the Old Covenant way of offering dead sacrifices before God to being living sacrifices themselves. The physical shadow gives way to the spiritual reality (there’s a paradox for you!). And this is holy and acceptable to God!
Likewise, we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds as we offer ourselves up to Him, submit to Him, not conforming ourselves to the world, but thinking on things as described in Philippians 4. Then we will know the will of God!
The practice of wearing tzit tzit is not necessary in the life of one who is in Christ, as our conscience is now governed by His Holy Spirit Who indwells us - not by physical fringes that hang from our clothing.
14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
It always strikes me how the physical shadows found in Torah fade away in the greater spiritual realities for those in Christ. That the commandment to wear tzit tzit and the reason for wearing them is now obsolete is just one more of those things.
May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.
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